Lebanon opposition wants joint election push to oust elite

Beirut (AFP) –


A coalition of Lebanese civil society groups and parties called Tuesday for a unified electoral bloc to try to defeat traditional leaders in 2022 polls.

The joint appeal by 16 groups, including the National Bloc, Beirut Madinati and Mintishreen, marks the most concerted effort yet towards forming an opposition umbrella to take on the ruling elite in parliamentary elections scheduled for May 2022.

"We are calling on all forces of change and the different revolutionary groups... to unify their ranks and work together towards forming the widest possible opposition bloc," spokesperson Nada Sehnaoui said.

"Together, we will develop a joint plan for our participation in parliamentary polls through joint opposition lists," she told a Beirut press conference held at the National Bloc's headquarters.

The groups taking part so far have mostly coalesced around a 2019 protest movement demanding the wholesale removal of political leaders widely deemed inept and corrupt.

They will run against established parties, many of which have been in power since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The coronavirus pandemic and last year's monster explosion at Beirut port that killed more than 200 people drained much of Lebanon's revolutionary momentum.

But anger is still rife over an economic crisis that has left more than 50 percent of the population below the poverty line.

The Lebanese pound has lost more than 85 percent of its value against the dollar in a devaluation that has eaten away at salaries and savings.

Consumer prices have skyrocketed and more people now depend on handouts and aid deliveries to survive.

"We don't have time to waste," Sehnaoui said.

"Hunger is stalking the vast majority of our people and the fate of our country is at stake."